University of Latvia
Faculty of Modern Languages
Department of English Studies
Outline of the Development of the English Literary Language: Characteristic Developments Throughout Centuries.
Assignment II in English Stylistics
Year III Group B Student
Development of the English Literary Language
Webster`s New World Dictionary defines the word „literary” as 1) a) of, having the nature of, or dealing with literature, b) of or having to do with books or writing; 2) characterized by the more formal, balanced, and polished language of literature rather than the informal language of speech. What is understood nowadays by literary language corresponds to the second meaning, and not everything that is written is in literary language; in contrast, the written records dating back to the early stages of language are all regarded as literary (see Source 1).
I have read and investigated what the following sources say on the development of the English literary language: Norman Blake`s The Cambridge History of the English Language and History of English by Rastorguyeva T.A.
During the MIE period, the boundary between the literary and the non-literary language was unclear and blurred (Blake 1992:500) due to the variation in written forms, regional forms, French influences, and the lack of distinction between styles. ‘The history of MIE literary language may be said to embody the accommodation between native traditions and foreign influences.’ (op.cit.506) English literary language may have been influenced by writings about literature and rhethorics in Latin (e.g., Gower`s and Chaucer`s prologue writing), and the 14th century written language displays foreign vocabulary and certain foreign stylistic features (op.cit.502-504; 516). In the early 14th century there were few attempts to enrich and improve the language deliberately. Later in the 14th century English...